When I had been last with General Buford
, he had just passed the brick house which I spoke of as being a landmark in the open fields above Beverly ford, on our right, and bearing then to his left, was advancing.
The ground in front of him was open for a long distance, as I have described, and had the appearance of a valley, flanked as it was by a ridge on one hand and woods on the other.
On arriving now at the brick house, I saw Buford
's troops engaged on high ground at the extreme end of the valley, in the edge of a wood, and I should say some two miles or more from the river.
He was entirely isolated from the rest of the command with Pleasonton
; but paying no undue attention to that fact, was fighting straight on. As I rode rapidly up the valley, I met with a stream of wounded men flowing to the rear, and the rattle of carbines in front was incessant.
On reaching the plateau at the end of the valley, I found the Fifth and Sixth Regulars massed in column, mounted, on the open hillside, suffering somewhat from the enemy's fire from the woods at the top of the hill on their front and right, but not replying.
They were perfectly firm and steady in the ranks, and under no pressure whatever, waiting apparently for orders to advance.
I inquired for General Buford
, but could not learn where he was, and though it seemed hardly possible that he should be in the midst of the fierce, almost hand-to-hand fight, which was raging in the edge of the woods, he had to be found, and I could see neither him nor any of his staff in the open.
It was but a few yards up the hill to the troops who were actually engaged, and as I rode among them I found myself with my own regiment, the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and at that moment the adjutant, Lieutenant Rudolph Ellis
, was severely wounded, and turned his horse down the hill.
I said a word to him, and was then immediately confronted by Captain Wesley Merritt
, commanding the Second Regulars, who was dashing through the woods without a hat, having just lost it by a sabre cut. He was rewarded for his conspicuous gallantry on this day, and soon became a brigadier general; then, like Custer
, a major general in good time, and one of the ablest and best of our cavalry commanders to the end of the war.
and a dozen more, I inquired in vain for General Buford
No one knew anything of him, but the fight went on briskly all the same.. Hurrying back then to the troops in the open, I reported to Major Whiting
, of the Second Regulars, the senior officer present with the brigade, that I had a pressing order from General Pleasonton
for General Buford
to retire at once, but he could not be found, and I asked Major Whiting
if he would